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2006 Ford Mustang - Without Limits
Greg Murray Blurs The Line Between Street And Race As He Strives For 200-Plus Mph In His '06 Mustang.
Many years ago, the line was blurred between street cars and race cars as performance output was taken to insane levels. The question remains-can the DNA of pure race be manipulated and massaged into a street-worthy package? Many have tried to replicate a race car that can withstand the rigors of the public roadways, but few have succeeded.
Greg Murray's '06 Mustang is a mutant that feels just as comfortable in traffic as it does making blasts up to 200 mph and beyond. His latest toy sits comfortably on the boundary between race and street-for some it's over the top, for others it's just right. This car has to push limits given its owner's sights are set on competing in the Unlimited category at the open road rally dubbed the Silver State Classic Challenge.
The road challenge is a high-speed event that takes place on Route 318 in scenic Nevada. For the past two decades, race officials have closed off a 90-mile portion of the state road in order to run this event. The speed limit is abolished along that stretch of roadway for the duration of the race, and the promoters brag that their competitors can drive without limits. The Silver State Classic is unique in that competitors enter a category based on average speed through the 90-mile stretch of road. Everything from daily drivers to full-on race cars participate in various mph categories. For the past four years, Greg competed in the 150-mph club with his '03 SVT Cobra that was mildly modified. His new car was built because he chose to enter the Unlimited category.
As with all forms of racing, the level of competition pushes everyone to build better machines. In order to compete with a course average of 200 mph, one must have a car capable of running faster than that. "I think this car can run in the neighborhood of 220 mph on the straights," Greg says. "You have to get up to high speeds on the straights and try to get ahead of schedule in the first half of the course. The bottom half includes narrow and twisty parts, and you definitely won't be able to make up time down there." A former ARCA race car converted for this event holds the current Silver State Classic record with a 207.78 mph average (driven by Chuck Shafer and Gary Bockman on May 21, 2000). Greg isn't sure if he's ready to break the record, but with time, you never know what this Mustang is capable of accomplishing.
If you think an ordinary Mustang with a few bolt-on parts, a blower, and some suspension upgrades will cut it, then think again. Predator Performance (DuBois, Pennsylvania) was saddled with the task of breeding a horse that can run with the highly modified exotics from Ferrari, Lamborghini, Porsche, as well as former full-on race cars. The Mustang needed a unique blend of race parts and street equipment to meet Greg's goals of a street-legal machine capable of going well over 200 mph.
The team at Predator, led by Chad Vogele, started with a stock '06 Mustang V-6, which was procured from Murray Ford and stripped to its bare shell. Gone are the pleasantries and in went the required pieces of the puzzle. The interior is quite Spartan for street duty but perfect for high-speed fun. Safety is paramount at this level, and Predator grafted a 10-point rollcage into the interior and custom-built, through-the-floor subframe connectors. The dashboard was radically altered and only the essential com-ponents were left in place, i.e., the Auto Meter gauges and switch panel. Custom dashboard pieces were fabricated and help make the dashboard look clean and organized. Greg sits in a Sparco Pro 2000 racing seat secured by a Simpson five-point harness. The factory steering wheel and column were ditched in favor of the racier Sweet collapsible steering column and removable steering wheel. The Safecraft on-board fire-protection system is in short reach of the driver's chair. Custom brake, clutch, and gas pedals were designed for driver comfort and durability in racing scenarios. Predator finished off the interior with Thermo-Control floor mats, hideaway batteries (behind the front seats), and painted racing stripes down the transmission tunnel to mimic the body's paint job.
The exterior of the car might look like it belongs on the showgrounds, but in reality the body components were chosen for their aerodynamics first and style second. Greg planned on building a Mustang GT-R clone, but the front fascia was not for sale from the concept car. The team chose 3d Carbon as the next best thing, and Predator added a few modifications to help downforce at excessive speeds. White paint adorns the modified S197 body along with a pair of racing stripes running front to back. A splitter was molded to the front fascia and helps prevent air from getting underneath the front end, which can cause it to lift. A custom diffuser was attached under the car to help channel the wind out from under the frame.
Looks are one thing, but performance matters most, so Greg went full tilt in the engine compart-ment and with chassis upgrades. The powerplant is nothing short of insane as Predator stuffed an 870hp engine under the carbon-fiber hood. That kind of power doesn't come from a modular engine, but rather from an old-school Windsor bullet. Durability is just as important as big horsepower, so a Dart iron block was chosen. Its cylinders were enlarged to 4.125 inches. A 3.750-inch stroke crankshaft from Scat was dropped into place and final displacement is 400 ci. JE custom pistons were made for this engine, and the compression percolates at 8.5:1. Connecting those pistons to the steel crank is the job of eight Eagle steel rods. A radical solid-roller camshaft sits in the block and features 0.660-inch lift on the intake lobes and 0.646-inch lift on the exhaust. Other breathing components include AFR 225 cylinder heads with 2.08/1.60 Ferrea valves, a TFS lower intake and a box R-series manifold, an Accufab 90mm throttle body, and a ProCharger F1R supercharger. Boost output from the stout street blower is a rather sedate 15 psi-despite the blower being capable of cranking out 25-plus psi on an engine like this one. A giant air-to-air intercooler sits behind the large opening in the lower valance-plenty of air rushes over it to help cool the intake charge.
The dyno-proven 870 horses are reported to be on the conservative side, and Greg thinks 1,000 hp is possible. He resisted the urge to turn it up, as the team didn't want to sacrifice durability while trying to achieve a grand of horsepower on the engine dyno. This engine will be running at high rpm for long periods of time, and 870 hp is plenty of power to get the car well over 200 mph. Controlling the RC Engineering 750cc fuel injectors and MSD ignition is a FAST engine-management system, tuned by Bart Grande. Custom headers were made specifically for this application, and they dump the exhaust through an H-pipe and into SpinTech mufflers and custom exhaust pipes. The final product rips on the street and sounds as great as it runs. One can only imagine how this Mustang roars when it's singing at a 200-mph cruising speed.
The suspension system is an eclectic compilation of bolt-on components bought by people like you and me and custom components fabbed by the experts at Predator. The backside features Steeda billet-aluminum upper and lower control arms, which attach the 8.8-inch rearend to the unibody. Inside the 8.8 rear are Moser axles, a Moser differential, and a set of rear gears with an undisclosed gear ratio. The gear ratio will depend on the course and type of racing environment. The ultra-racy Dynamic Suspension was tapped for just about everything else that helps suspend the car. The front struts, springs, sway bar, and polyurethane bushings are Dynamic pieces as is the high-performance power-steering rack. Out back, it's more of the same-Dynamic shocks and springs. This type of suspension setup allows Greg the ultimate in versatility and adjustability so he can tackle the public highways of Nevada or the high banks of Daytona Speedway, and anything in between.
Making a run in the Unlimited category in Nevada will put Greg against some awesome teams, and he certainly doesn't want to be unprepared. The Mustang is slated for wind-tunnel testing in North Carolina. The aero-dynamics will be optimized, and then it's off to Utah, as Greg wants to have some top-speed fun on the Bonneville Salt Flats. Afterwards, he and the car will travel to Nevada to qualify for the Unlimited class. In order to be eligible, he must first compete in the 180-mph-average club.
The line between street and race might not be clear with this car, but it's all good as long as Greg is having fun and reaching for 200-plus mph. And that's all that matters.